The cellar was bigger than the others I’d been through.
No, it was more than that. It was a huge, disorganised, irregular-shaped expanse of shattered concrete flooring, random wood-panelled walls, scuffed cement pillars and at least a couple of deeper extensions my light couldn’t even reach into, that probably opened out onto wider chambers. It was like an abandoned parking hall. I wasn’t even certain if the department store had a parking hall underneath it, but I doubted it did. There was space for cars, technically, but I’m not sure how they would get around the place. Or in and out. And besides, I was pretty sure that wasn’t what this place was.
And there were doors everywhere.
They were all fairly similar, wood or plastic laminate, sporting round doorknobs with keyholes in the middle. There were minor variations in their textures, their colours, the frames they were set in, but they all looked as though they’d come from approximately the same manufacturer. From where I was standing, next to the ladder-stairs, I could count at least eleven of them. There were more, but the shifting shadows and disorienting setting made it easy for me to lose track of which ones I’d already counted.
I lowered the torch and had a look at the floor.
Of course, there were no tracks – or rather, there were a few different sets of whole and partial shoe-prints in the crumbly gravel and the sand covering some of the concrete flooring, but they were going in all directions and it was impossible to pick out whether any of them might be Rose’s. There were even some various-sized paw prints, although whether these belonged to time travellers who were out walking their pets, or to some random animals that had wandered into cellar space-time by accident, I couldn’t have guessed. I was pretty sure I saw a horseshoe print in one spot.
I walked around in a little hapless circle, looking into the shadows, turning back every now and then to make sure the exit – exit to a completely useless mid-apocalyptic present-future – was still in sight.
“Damn it,” I muttered.